When a company decides to allow telecommuting for the first time there are many concerns. Will this really work may well be chief among them. However, with proper planning these concerns can easily be addressed.
One of the basic concerns is whether or not telecommuting employees will really be working. This can be dealt with by having definite goals. One thing that must be remembered is that on average employee productivity increases with telecommuting, rather than decreases. It is vital, therefore, that the employer's expectations be made clear before allowing an employee to telecommute.
It is very common for managers to be concerned about how they will be able to effectively manage offsite employees. Telecommuting requires a certain degree of trust on management's part as well as goals that can be tracked so that it is clear whether work is being accomplished effectively or not. There must be a focus on results rather than on the process of the work getting done.
It may also be a concern that employees will not identify as strongly with the company they are working for when they telecommute. There may be concerns about employee loyalty or even that they might work some of the time for someone else.
Perhaps the greatest problem arises in the area of security. Telework by definition requires that information leaves the work site, and that may put it at greater risk. A properly trained employee with an appropriate setup should be able to handle all sensitive information securely.
For security purposes, it is vital that employers require all telecommuting employees to use computers with a good firewall, virus protection and spyware scanning capabilities. While it is not impossible for someone to get around these systems, they do limit the problem fairly well. Employers will also want to have appropriate security in place for the connections employees make to their systems. The exact implementation will vary by company and the measures required change as computers become more powerful and complex. There must be some sort of authentication for employee access to information, for example, but it is impossible to say what the best solution is for every company.
Unions may or may not approve of telecommuting, and this can cause problems as well. Such concerns must be addressed before a telecommuting policy is put into place. As home based occupations in the past were low paid, many unions disapprove of telework even now. This problem may also be related to the difficulty in getting home based employees interested in the union. However, as many people consider the ability to telecommute a benefit, employees will generally support the idea of telecommuting even as the union disagrees.
In some areas there may even be zoning considerations. Even now, not all cities permit home based occupations, even though a telecommuter's activities have no impact on those around his home. However, this does also mean that telework is likely to go undetected, and as most places do permit home occupations, this is rarely a serious problem.
Taxes can be confusing if the company is in one state and the employee in another. In some cases state income tax must be paid to both states. This can create a lot of confusion and complicate bookkeeping.
Insurance and safety issues cover some areas management may not be used to dealing with. OSHA still applies to telecommuters even though it is difficult or even impossible for companies to enforce it. Health insurance and other forms of insurance, of course, should be treated as they usually are for employees, unless the telecommuter is considered to be self employed. There will also be considerations for damage to equipment or data.
While there are many serious concerns when instituting a telecommuting policy, there are tremendous benefits to be had from allowing employees to telecommute. It is vital that telecommuting be something that is allowed only if employees prove themselves to be appropriately productive. If they cannot work at least as well at home as they do in the office it is not worth your business's time or money to permit them this priveledge.
Benefits of Telecommuting for Employers
Many employers have doubts about how they will benefit by allowing telecommuting. However, there are benefits to them.
Copyright © 2003-2017 Stephanie Foster unless otherwise indicated
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